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Posts Tagged ‘health’

cancer-prevention-monthFebruary may be the shortest month, but it’s a busy time for holidays and health. Valentine’s Day blows warm kisses amid cold winters. President’s Day follows close behind reminding us of extraordinary American leaders in past years. While we observe these two holidays, February additionally focuses on health. Heart-related problems are the number one cause of death in our nation. National Heart Month in February encourages Americans to alter lifestyles to slow progression of this disease.

This is also National Cancer Prevention Month. More than a half million Americans will lose their lives to cancer this year. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) estimates that nearly one-third of cancer cases could be prevented by eating healthy, staying active, and maintaining appropriate weight.

For 2017, AICR provided a 30-day prevention checklist to improve lifestyles. In these few remaining days in February, we can include modified food-related suggestions from their list along with other recommendations to help prevent cancer.

  • If overweight or obese, make every effort to reach your recommended weight. Up to 40 percent of all cancers are associated with excess weight.
  • Distinguish between weight loss myths and facts.
  • Measure portion sizes to avoid overeating.
  • Enjoy meatless dishes. Most American grew up with red meats, from hamburgers to prime rib. While we can periodically enjoy these tasty foods in our diets, to reduce cancer risks limit red meats, especially those that have been cured. Try healthier entrees from vegetables, cheese, or beans.
  • Swap processed meats for better protein sources such as fish or chicken.
  • Substitute water or unsweetened beverages for sugary drinks.
  • Learn the relationship between sugar and cancer.
  • Try new whole grains. Today we have access to familiar grains as well as those unknown to us a decade ago. Common whole grains include amaranth, buckwheat, farro, Kamut, maize, millet, quinoa, rye, sorghum, and teff.
  • Cook cancer fighting recipes.
  • Read labels. Remember, ingredients are listed on the label in order of weight, with the main ingredient first.
  • Take the AICR healthy diet quiz.

The dreaded “C” word affects many lives. Lower your risks by incorporating these suggestions into your routine and adopting permanent changes for a healthier lifestyle.

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 If you thought the title referred to your opinions, think again. The more correct question should be what’s on your MIND Diet? That’s right. Although the diet has been around for a few years, we don’t hear much about it. But maybe we should.

Rush University Medical Center developed a diet to slow cognitive decline, namely Alzheimer’s disease, in older adults. The diet combined the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets and was referred to as the MIND Diet―Mediterranean–DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

How significant is finding a diet to thwart this leading neurodegenerative condition―Alzheimer’s disease? More than five million people over age sixty-five are affected. The MIND diet may lower the risk of this disease by more than 50 percent. Even those inconsistent in following the diet can cut their risk by 35 percent.

The MIND diet has fifteen dietary components with ten brain-healthy groups and five unhealthy-brain food groups. See how closely you follow this diet to keep your brain functioning at its peak.

Healthy foods                                                           

  • Green leafy vegetables: Six servings or more per week of foods like spinach, kale, and salad greens.
  • Other vegetables: At least one-half cup cooked or one cup raw once a day.
  • Nuts: Five servings per week. One-third cup equals a serving.
  • Berries: Three servings per week. Blueberries and strawberries are the best choices for a positive impact on the mind.
  • Beans: Three or more servings per week. These include one-half cup of cooked lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, and similar varieties.
  • Whole grains: Three or more servings per day. Look for labels that say “100 percent whole grain.”
  • Fish: At least once per week. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and sardines are preferred choices.
  • Poultry: Two or more servings per week. Remove skin and bake, broil, grill, or roast. Avoid frying.
  • Olive oil: Use as the main choice for cooking oil.
  • Wine: No more than one glass a day.

Unhealthy foods       

  • Red meats: Less than four servings a week. Use lean cuts and trim fat from those you do eat.
  • Butter/margarine: Less than a tablespoon daily.
  • Cheese: One serving each week. Most cheeses are high in fat and sodium. Swiss cheese is low in both and can add more cheese servings per week.
  • Pastries and sweets: Less than five servings a week. These contain high levels of sugar, fat, and sodium.
  • Fried or fast food: Less than one serving a week.

While this diet has many beneficial qualities that may lower the risks of many health issues―hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other maladies present as we age―there are drawbacks. Due to high levels of potassium and phosphorus, those with kidney disease should avoid this diet. Increased consumption of whole grains and other higher calorie foods may be inappropriate for those with diabetes.

For most of us, efforts to closely follow this diet may keep minds sharp and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. For this eating plan to become a part of our lifestyle, keeping a chart for several weeks helps. Below is one example.

To borrow from part of a cliché, the mind is a terrible thing to let waste away. Keep it healthier with the MIND Diet.

mind-chart-4

 

 

 

 

2016-10-06

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The Paleo Diet, touted for weight loss, has a growing number of followers. What is this diet? Is it right for you? The Paleo Diet, also known as the Caveman Diet or Stone Age Diet, refers to foods available during the Paleolithic Age, when early ancestors weren’t farmers but hunters and gatherers. They depended on food caught or gathered from open fields and forests.

According to Paleo enthusiasts, the diet includes lean meats, shellfish, eggs, fruits and vegetables, and healthy oils (olive and coconut). Restricted foods include dairy, refined sugar, potatoes, salt, refined vegetable oils (such as canola), grains, and all processed foods.

A recent study of older women on this diet caught my attention. The study included thirty-five post-menopausal women who followed the diet for two years and lost significant weight. A researcher not involved in the study pointed out that those conducting the study veered from a true Paleo Diet to one that mimicked much of the Mediterranean Diet, an acceptable plan for healthy eating. A study of only thirty-five subjects concerned me.

What can we believe? In January 2016, the U. S. News & World Report listed scores of the most common diets based on a scale from 0 to 5. The Paleo diet had a 2.0 overall score. On weight loss, it scored 1.9. The score for healthy eating was 2.1, and the magazine ranked “ease to follow” at 1.7.

The magazine rated thirty-eight diets, divided into nine categories. How did the Paleo Diet fare? For Best Overall Diet, it ranked number thirty-six, tied for next to last place with the Dukan Diet, and came in last for Best Weight-loss Diet. Not only that, to follow this diet requires more home preparation, thus more kitchen time ― a sparse commodity for busy families. It also tends to cost more.

Supporters of this diet claim it leads to a healthier, fitter, disease-free life. In actuality, it fails to provide a number of needed nutrients. Exclusion of dairy makes it difficult to get recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D. Limited grains and pulses (legumes) restrict needed fiber in the diet.

Before we embark on any diet plan, it’s wise to learn the pros and cons. When tempted to follow popular diets whose claims sound too good to be true, think again. They probably are.

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A designated “day” seems to exist for everything imaginable. June 10, 2016 is National Iced Tea Day.

The history of tea goes back some 5,000 years. Recipes for cold spiked punches, made mostly from green tea, surfaced in the late 1700s. Nearly 100 years later, recipes of the iced tea we love today appeared in cookbooks. While iced tea is great unsweetened, early versions were mostly sweetened and often served  with lemon.

Iced tea became a national favorite after Richard Blechynden, a tea merchant, decided on a hot day at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis to distribute free iced tea instead of his usual hot tea. This iced beverage immediately became a hit and has become one of the most popular drinks around the world. Some 85 percent of tea drinkers want theirs iced.

Celebrate this national day with a tall glass of refreshing and healthful iced tea.

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I am a longtime hot tea fan. For decades, anytime has been tea time for me. While others order a different favorite brew, as I do occasionally, I prefer black tea. Now comes evidence of my reward for my beverage choice. As little as one cup per day may improve health.

Tea contains flavonoids which have antioxidant properties. Flavonoids come from a broad category of non-nutritive phytochemicals found only in plants. These substances help to maintain health in varied ways. Other familiar phytochemicals include carotenoids, isoflavones, phenolic acids, and many more. It is estimated that hundreds of phytochemicals are yet to be identified. Tea has one of the highest concentrations of flavonoids of any plant. The type and amount in tea varies depending on several factors.

While antioxidants are in a different category, some phytochemicals have antioxidant properties, meaning they can help prevent or delay damage to cells and tissues. Antioxidants are found in both plant and animal sources.

Green tea has more of the flavonoid called catechins. Black tea, which has been fermented or oxidized, contains more of the flavonoids theaflavins and thearubigins. Both are water-soluble and readily absorbed into the body. For maximum concentration of flavonoids, steep tea for at least one minute. The longer the brew time, the higher the concentration of flavonoids and increased health benefits.

How is tea effective in health promotion? Research shows several conditions affected by flavonoids and perhaps other unidentified phytochemicals.

  • Heart disease: Tea drinkers may be more than one-third less likely to have a heart attack. Calcium deposits are linked to heart disease and other cardiovascular events. Buildup of these deposits, associated with plaque development in coronary arteries, is less in those who drink tea.
  • Dementia: Older adults with high levels of calcium plaques in their arteries are more likely to develop dementia earlier than those without calcium buildup. As in heart disease, tea seems to decrease the accumulation.
  • Neurological conditions: Antioxidants in tea have possible neuroprotective agents and may prove to reduce risks for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Other diseases: Researchers have found favorable, but not conclusive, evidence of lower risks of skin disease, cancer, excessive weight, and other maladies in tea drinkers.

But is it the tea or something else? Although researchers have not found a direct relationship, tea drinkers tend to live healthier lifestyles. Whatever current and future findings, tea is a wholesome, inexpensive drink that contributes to a healthy diet.

Drink up!

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Projected new cancer cases in 2016 will exceed 1.5 million. What can we do to avoid being oneWord cloud for Healthy Eating of those statistics? Excessive body weight is a definite link for increased risk of certain cancers. Two-thirds of U. S. adults are overweight or obese. According to the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), one-third of all cancer cases hinge on three weight-related factors.

Eat Smart:    AICR recommends vegetables, fruits, and whole grains make up two-thirds of the meal. More than one-third of people surveyed by AICR claimed cost influenced their failure to eat healthy. The following include AICR suggestions to lower food costs plus my own thoughts.

  • Choose lower-cost fresh produce such as carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, oranges and foods in season. Many of these foods, especially vegetables, keep for longer periods of time so stockpile them when grocery stores run specials.
  • Stock up on canned foods. Canned fruits and vegetables are convenient and economical. Grocery stores also run specials on many canned items. To save on costs, choose store brands that in most cases are as nutritious as name brands.
  • Keep frozen foods on hand if space permits. Frozen foods are quick and easy to prepare and retain nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Move More:    Many claim a lack of time as their reason for failing to exercise. Easy ways to move more  include:

  • Take five-minute walking breaks. Sitting all day at work or at a desk is detrimental to health. Short breaks will improve physical well-being while giving your brain a break as well.
  • Include the family. Use TV commercial breaks for activity challenges for the entire family. Children often relate well to simple family games that involve movement.
  • Try new activities or resurrect old ones. Often sedentary past-times have replaced previously active ones. Find a family member or friend to join you in former active interests or join a class involving your favorite activity.

Maintain a Healthy Weight. Next to smoking, excessive weight is the single most important factor in lowering the risks of at least ten different kinds of cancers. In April 2016 the AICR released an updated report relating stomach cancer to extra body weight bringing that number to eleven. The report confirmed other food-related issues that also increased stomach cancer―consuming three or more alcoholic drinks per day and eating bacon, hot dogs and other processed meats.

More than half of the American population are unaware that weight is linked to their risk for cancer. Many find losing weight difficult and don’t know where to begin. The AICR “Cancer-Fighting Fridge” makes other recommendations in addition to those already stated.

  • Swap white processed grains for whole grains.
  • Make fruit and vegetables front and center
  • Replace sweetened drinks with water and unsweetened beverages
  • Keep easy-to-grab healthy snacks and meal options visible

May 8-14, 2016 is National Women’s Health Week. This is a great time to consider―not only for women but men as well― what you will do to lower your risk of cancer. Women can find additional age-related guidelines to help make more informed choices.

Knowing that too much weight leaves us more susceptible to unwanted cancer, why do we take losing weight so lightly (no pun intended)? Weight-loss is a challenge, but most of us can do it.

And one last suggestion from AICR worthy of note, support and encourage those making an effort to lose weight. Even small amounts of weight-loss benefit health. Don’t wait another day to begin the road to a healthier you and at the same time help others in their quest.

http://womenshealth.gov/nwhw/by-age/ (paste into browser if link fails to work)

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The tsunami of obesity refuses to let up. Pills and potions may prove worthless or harmful.Appetite, Barbeque, Beef, Calories Cutting out favorite sweets and fatty foods taxes self-control, and special diets may work only for a brief time. What to do? How can we curb the continuing expansion of our waistlines?

We often overlook a major cause of obesity. It’s so easy, yet few practice what it takes. What is this magic bullet? Portion control! Yep, we put too much on our plates and lap up every morsel. My mother would say about my sister, “Her eyes are bigger than her stomach.” She thought she could eat more than she could. That doesn’t seem to be the case with most of us. We fill our plates, and even if we do begin to feel full, we keep eating. It takes our brains about 20 minutes to catch up with our stomach and sense a feeling of fullness.

How do we resolve this problem? Most of us fail to recognize what a serving is. We don’t eat servings, we eat portions. They are different. A serving is a specified amount of a given food from nutritional guidelines. Labeled products list serving amounts. If a product says it contains two servings and we eat the whole thing, then in actuality we have eaten two servings. Foods may vary slightly by products or categories, but a serving size is close to the following scale.

  • Fresh fruit—–1 small to medium whole piece
  • Cooked fruit——½ cup
  • Raw vegetables—–1 cup
  • Cooked vegetables—–½ cup
  • Meat/poultry/fish—–a piece about the size of a deck of cards
  • Cereals—–about ½ to 1 cup (see the box for exact amounts)
  • Breads—–1 slice, buns and similar breads are 2 servings
  • Milk—–1 cup (preferably skim)
  • Nuts—–1 ounce (12 almonds/7 walnut halves)

To keep that scale from climbing, take a look at how much you eat. If you are a hearty eater and tend to pile your plate high, keep serving sizes in mind and consciously eat less. Measure exact amounts of foods eaten at home until you can visualize how much of a certain food is a serving. Below are other tips to help that scale go down.

  • When you eat out, consider sharing your meal with another person in your group. Or ask for a take-out box and remove half the food before you begin eating.
  • If you choose high-calorie foods such as pizza or sweetened beverages, order the smallest size.
  • When you begin to feel full, stop eating.
  • Resign from the “clean-plate-club.”
  • Discipline yourself not to return for seconds.

A portion size is how much we choose to eat at one time. It may be a half serving, but often it is one and one-half or more servings. Many other factors relate to losing weight such as changing sugary beverages to no-calorie drinks or choosing low-fat dairy products. But serving size is often a culprit that slips up on us. Conquer this bully and watch weight slowly dwindle. What have you got to lose except weight?

Suggested References:

http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/a-closer-look-inside-healthy-eating-patterns/#table-1-1

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Caregiver/Replenish/WhatisaServing/What-is-a-Serving_UCM_301838_Article.jsp#.VvBH_jHmqUk

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/HowtoMakeaHealthyHome/Portion-Size-Versus-Serving-Size_UCM_304051_Article.jsp#.VvBI7zHmqUk

 

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